Friday, December 9, 2016

title pic Diana Barry’s Walking Skirt

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on February 4, 2012

Of all the exquisite gowns from the Edwardian era, I think that none were so elegant and understated as a fitted walking skirt which trailed behind the wearer in a slight train when she walked.  Anne Shirley and Diana Barry looked so graceful in their flowing skirts from Anne of Avonlea, and Diana Barry’s “going away” dress (which I have been excitedly recreating) is certainly no exception!


The pattern cover is copyright by

While I had nearly finished the bodice for Diana Barry’s lovely going away ensemble, the skirt remained to be sewn in what I was hoping would be a very easy task.  And I was not disappointed!
Initially my observations of Diana’s skirt led me to believe that I would have to draft it entirely from scratch since it didn’t have too many visible seams or skirt gores.  Perhaps it’s just the fact that her dress is shown for such a short scene, but somehow it didn’t look like the skirt had many gores in it.  But then I thought, “Who is really going to mind if I use an easy published pattern since no one can see the seams on the film costume anyhow?”  So I proceeded to sew the skirt using the terrific nine-gore “Beatrix Skirt Pattern” from Sense & Sensibility Patterns.  Please note that these pictures do not show the final “v” belt which will be worn over the skirt’s waistband.  But it will look just like the movie costume once it is all worn as one outfit!
I don’t know when I’ve had an easier pattern to work with – the skirt came together in a few hours, plus a couple hours of hemming by hand.  While this pattern was based on an original 1909 design and the Anne of Avonlea movie suggests that it takes place in 1902 (thanks to a poster in a “Kingsport” scene), I think it works just perfectly for Anne Shirley reproductions!

Thank God for Gingher pinking shears!

And speaking of seams, I am so glad I learned how to press seams properly many years ago!  You would not believe what a huge difference it makes in “before” and “after” pictures.  And since this skirt has nine gores (and therefore lots of prominent seams!) it is crucial that the seams lay flat, are well pressed, and are as unnoticeable as possible.  You can see below how the seams looked before and after pressing, and if you have never learned the “five-step pressing method”, I would highly recommend that you read the tutorial I wrote here.

I almost hate to put this picture online, but it shows how important pressing is!

I absolutely love the way this skirt fits!  I have rarely found a skirt pattern that is so flattering and has such a perfect blend of fit and ease.  It is almost snug in the waist area, then flares into the most becoming a-line silhouette.
In the back I slightly altered the pleats to resemble the original movie costume.  You can really adjust the fullness in back in any way you want, or you can even cut the skirt out so that it’s flat in the back without any pleating.  But personally I think it is very elegant to include the pleats which drape into elegant folds towards the lower part of the skirt.
The only change I made to the pattern was adding a waistband.  By simply taking your waist measurement and adding a couple inches for seam allowances and ease, then determining how tall you want the band to be (times two plus 1 1/4″ for seams) you can instantly draft the pattern piece and cut out a rectangular piece according to these dimensions.  I like to interface only one half of the long side of the waistband so that it has a natural fold line for the perfect crease down the center.
When I took these photographs on the mannequin, I hadn’t yet had time to hem it by hand, so I just folded the edges under in the pictures.  But it looks much better since yesterday!  I always do my hand hemming while I’m watching a film of some sort, and yesterday the selection of choice was the fabulous 2009 “Emma” by BBC.  This four hour drama was the perfect amount of time for me to sew tiny, nearly invisible hand stitches around the lower edge of the skirt and attach the antique lace to the bodice.  My mother and I (along with my future sister-in-law) had the most enjoyable afternoon watching this period Jane Austen film, and it certainly helped the hand sewing pass quicker!
You’ll notice that I did not put the Diana Barry bodice on the dress form for these pictures, since I want it to be more of a surprise for the final photo shoot.  But I did pull out my Edwardian shirtwaist that I made last summer and tucked it into the skirt.  I really think you could almost wear this as an outfit, even if you didn’t have the film bodice!  That’s the thing I love so much about the Edwardian era, that unlike previous decades where each outfit was meant to stand alone, you could mix and match different blouses and skirts for an entire wardrobe of elegant outfits.
Well, I have rambled on for long enough and should go sew the belt to finish up this costume, but assuming I can have the photo shoot on the intended day, you can expect full costume pictures to be online next week!
Happy sewing,

title pic Three Fabulous 1950s Dress Patterns

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 30, 2012

I am momentarily interrupting my previously scheduled “Diana Barry” Edwardian gown project by posting about my “new” vintage 1950s patterns! This past Christmas my dear family gave me one of the greatest presents I could have thought of – a gift certificate to So Vintage Patterns!  So after spending many delightful hours poring over the many thousands of vintage patterns available, I chose three patterns which were all printed in the 1950s.  Today, after many days of watching the mailbox, my patterns arrived!  They are even more beautiful than how they looked online, and I can’t wait to try them out this spring!
I have been aware for the last year or so that the 1950s era is quickly becoming my favorite “wearable” costume era, so it’s not surprising that I chose three patterns within the same time period.  But while these designs have a lot of similarities, I realized today that I managed to get all three main skirt styles from the 50s represented in these patterns – Advance 6896 has wide pleats at the top of the full skirt, Vogue 9114 has an even larger skirt silhoutte with lots of gathers, and Butterick 6835 boasts a bouffant circular skirt which fits smoothly into the bodice with a straight waist.
My first choice (Vogue 9114) was chosen partially due to the distinctive diagonal darts/release tucks, but I’m afraid the main reason was because of the lovely pink floral print on the dress illustration!  I love that white hat and the long, trailing ribbon on the dress.  Wouldn’t it make the perfect vintage Easter ensemble?

Look at that adorable pink dress! I can't wait to sew a dress from this pattern.

My favorite of the patterns (Butterick 6835) is simply darling!  It has a flattering circular skirt and the most adorable bodice with a sloped midriff seam, pintucked upper bodice, and short or long raglan sleeves.  I think the illustrated model in the light pink semi-sheer dress wears the prettiest outfit on the pattern cover.  I would love to make this up in a dotted swiss, batiste, or cotton eyelet!  And that fold down collar is so cute!
Then there’s Advance 6896 which was listed on the site as “So I Love Lucy“.  Well, if there’s one thing that will sell me on a pattern it would be likening it to Lucille Ball’s dresses, and after careful inspection I definitely agree that this is very similar to some of her screen outfits.  What makes this dress so “Lucy” is the shirtwaist dress, winged collar, but most importantly – those long, diagonal bust darts which were so uniquely placed make this almost an exact replica of a number of her costumes.
So after this slight diversion into 50s fashion, I will soon have my “Diana Barry” Edwardian film costume finished up.  But just as soon I get it off the sewing table and into the closet, I will have an awful lot of 1950s dresses to look forward to!
Happy sewing!

title pic Hand-sewn Details on the “Diana Barry” Dress

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 25, 2012

The last few days I have been trying desperately not to be in the “depths of despair” (as Anne Shirley always said) about the fact that I haven’t posted pictures sooner!  Because the sewing progress I have made on the Anne of Avonlea gown project has been rather detailed and time consuming work, the bodice hasn’t hurried along as quickly as I was hoping for.  It’s not that I haven’t been working hard on the dress, it’s just that the last several steps have focused on details that don’t vastly change the overall appearance of the bodice from how it looked last week.

Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed the hand sewing I’ve been doing, and am very pleased with the way it’s coming together!

Below is a picture of how the inside seams of the bodice looked after I finished them.  Most were sewn by machine, but I finished the armsceye seam allowances by hand while watching “Anne of Green Gables”.

Next I finished the bottom edge of the bodice using the “prickstitching” method – this technique uses wider stitches on the inside and tiny, almost invisble stitching on the outside.

I used this same method for finishing the back opening edges which will soon be finished with a hook and eye closure.

With all raw edges hemmed or finished, I now turned my attention to the leg-o-mutton sleeve cuffs.  If you look closely at the film stills, you will see that the cuffs on Diana Barry’s going away dress are partially covered in a lovely embroidered netting lace.


There is a strip of this lace that goes down the side of the cuff, and I was determined to achieve the same look.  While that original lace would have been an English embroidered lace made from cotton netting, the only type I had available was a very similar pattern, but on a nylon net instead.   The netting lace was sewn on by machine using an invisible thread.

I had thought that the lower part would be so easy to sew, and it was easy until I tried to join the upper sleeve to the lower sleeve!  I had to gather almost forty inches of heavy bengaline into a tiny eight inch-wide cuff, which was a challenging task that the machine wasn’t up for.

So I handstitched the upper sleeves into the cuffs, then finished the raw edges by tucking the seam allowances into the cuff and whipstitching it closed by hand.

With the cuffs successfully attached I added button looping (one of my favorite sewing accessories!) to the cuff edges.  The looping was also attached by machine with invisible thread.

When it came to sewing on the buttons, I did splurge a little bit and chose some pearl-like buttons with Swarovski crystals in the center of each one.  I know this type would not have typically been used on gowns back then, but I couldn’t resist making the cuffs a little more whimsical and fanciful!

Lastly, I attached the lace collar to the neckline by machine, then prickstitched the seam allowances down towards the bodice to keep the seam allowances from being visible through the netting lace.

So all that’s left on the bodice is the lace flounce/trim which I will attach by hand, the shell buttons down the front, and the hook and eye closure down the back.  After that I will whip up the skirt, draft the belt, and get ready to have some pictures taken!

And in anticipation of the upcoming photo shoot I invested in a pair of Victorian high-laced boots which will no doubt add to the authenticity of the look.

More pictures to come soon!